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Coming Soon, Flying Carpets

Today we explore the shabby, semi-shady spending schemes of our elected representatives who, failing repeatedly and learning nothing, plunge ahead with billion dollar projects you and I know are idiotic. 

(One of) Jerry Brown’s follies was a super-fast train to be launched way far east of Ukiah and terminating in a city no one ever heard of somewhere out in a desert, dead on inspiration. It never launched, it never landed and it never made sense.

Jerry’s Bullet Train took a self-administered high caliber round through the temple and collapsed in an expensive bloody heap, but not before spending hundreds of millions of dollars and leaving behind not one inch of track. You may remember. Remember also that no politician, including Governor Moonbeam, had the decency to apologize for all our money squandered on nothing.

Next, SmartTrains absorbed tax dollars the way thirsty mops absorb red blood, red ink and real money before succumbing to reality, which is that no one rides dinky little rail cars bouncing between Sonoma and Marin Counties just to experience the thrill of finding a taxi cab or boat or bus over to San Francisco, unless the whole point of the excursion is to take the train back to Santa Rosa in time for lunch.

Which is probably the reality for California lawmakers. They don’t have actual jobs with “work” hours or an expectation they produce anything of value. Instead they dream up green energy slogans and alternate transportation fantasies designed to prevent citizens who pay highway taxes from driving on highways.

 (Personally I love public transportation, and encourage more people to ride-share, take buses or hitchhike so they’re not in my way when I roll about in my eight wheel drive Dodge Hemi pickup.) 

Demanding peasants utilize public transportation is what brought the late, great North Coast Rail Authority (NCRA) to life a decade or two ago as a money-sucking agency full of promises it had no intention keeping. It lied to the public about the train’s rosy future until the last of many millions went spiraling down drains from here to San Rafael.

Once dead (again, no apologies from elected officials about shredded tax dollars) it was instantly reborn as a new and improved pedestrian Rail Trail. This too shall fail, and our legislators probably already know it but are waiting to spring the punchline on us the same way Mike McGuire (D-Self) sprang his most recent one about the dead and buried NCRA.

McGuire, in a Ukiah Daily Journal front-pager (originally by Isabella Vanderheiden of the Eureka Times-Standard) said his new million mile sidewalk puts the bad old railroad to a well-deserved death. The new trail, says McGuire “Officially, once and for all, disbands the NCRA, which is a hot mess and is bankrupt.” 

Bravo, Mike. Way to stand up for sound fiscal planning and prudent spending. Your footpath to nowhere will probably cost less than the Hubble Telescope.

What he conveniently avoids: Any explanation on who caused this big hot bankrupt mess. The pure disaster of the NCRA rests with the California legislature. Our elected reps dreamed up, gave birth to, then nurtured and spent untold sums on the project; McGuire acts like the subsequent abortion is our fault, or at least nothing for which he or his colleagues bear responsibility.

Also, please note lack of apology for money spent on nothing.

He and his merry band of lawmakers ignore, and have ignored for decades, that money generated by highway taxes and gasoline taxes are intended to be spent on roads. What Northern California needs today is wider, better, modern highways suitable for travel in the 21st century. Or the 1990s. Or the 1970s.

But what do we have? In all of California, the most populated state in the nation, we have two (2) north-south roads. One is Highway 101, and it includes sections with one lane in each direction. 

Our highways are suitable for the 1930s. We commute daily on roads built 100 years ago and hardly improved in 50. Drive in or out of Hopland, north or south, on a narrow single-lane of poorly illuminated pavement. 

Head north out of Willits and experience an exciting one-lane journey. Fasten your seat belt. Bring your rosary beads. Take the 90 mile trip (one lane each direction) on Highway 20 from Ukiah to Williams, but only with an ambulance following.

McGuire and his friends don’t drive these stretches. They get hauled around in limousines, popping up here and there for photo ops and a chance to brag about the joy of walking the improbable Rail Trail from Hopland to Laytonville. Wheee.

More McGuire, solemn-like: “We’ve always known that creating the Great Redwood Trail was not going to be easy, nor will it be quick. There’s going to be a ton of work ahead of us for many years and it’s going to take time to do this project right.” 

That “ton of work” will be done by men with picks, shovels, trucks and bulldozers, the kinds of guys Mike McGuire has never met. Also, he undoubtedly mumbled the same empty “do this project right” rhetoric about the Bullet Train and the SmartTrain. 

The hiking trail, begun loudly, will spend hugely, die quietly, blame shifted instantly. New bold and unrealistic spending plans will be announced.

I vote for Flying Carpet technology. It runs on solar or wind or whatever, and will require massive investments from taxpayers to nurse it along. Mike McGuire is already preparing a speech.

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

One year when no one (well, everyone) was looking the Super Bowl became the biggest holiday in the country. Compare it to the reception other holidays get and the Super Bowl stands alone.

Everybody likes the Super Bowl, or at least nobody doesn’t like it enough to file a lawsuit against it because their feelings got hurt. This doesn’t mean that eventually the Super Bowl won’t be offending people for one reason or none, and the usual whiners and complainers won’t attack it the way they do anything beyond Groundhog Day.

Compare the Super Bowl to other holidays and we begin to understand:

CHRISTMAS — It’s the most wonderful time of the year that has to fend off the most angriest critics of all. It’s too commercial or it’s too religious, or else it culturally appropriated somebody’s ancient pagan fest.

Feeling outraged yet? Try these: Santa mucks up the climate by hauling toys all over the world, and in some city somewhere there’s a public Nativity Scene honoring Jesus’s birth.

(Note: Super Bowl fans don’t get agitated over the birthplace of Tom Brady or Joe Namath.)

EASTER — Ditto the above.

(Note: Substitute Big Bunny for Santa, eggs for toys.)

PRESIDENT’S DAY — Never a holiday to whoop and holler much, but by 2021 fights erupt over dead white males like Thomas Jefferson and Dwight Eisenhower.

(Note: At Super Bowl parties they celebrate Vince Lombardi, Otto Graham and other dead white dudes.)

THANKSGIVING — No longer politically appropriate to pause once yearly to Give Thanks. Cultural guardians disdain bonds forged between settlers and Natives. Vegans and PETA-brains squawk because turkey is on the menu.

(Note: If you don’t like what’s on the Super Bowl menu it’s OK to just hush up and drive to Taco Bell.)

VETERAN’S DAY — Not in our lifetimes will vets be again much honored. Too patriotic. Too much of that icky militaristic stuff with all those bombs and things.

(Note: Nothing beats football when it comes to militaristic tactics and strategy. It’s got the aerial attacks, the violence, and the fierce battles in muddy trenches over a few inches of disputed territory. Pacifists maybe haven’t tuned in to a Super Bowl for the past XXIICX years.)

MEMORIAL DAY — Ditto the above.

FOURTH OF JULY — It’s got everything going against it these days because of all the red-white-blue and all the John Philip Sousa and the parades and the barbecued hotdogs.

How many Ukiahans recall the avalanche of anger caused when someone on the city’s west side with a very fine music system began playing loud versions of patriotic classics early one July 4th morning? You’d have thought there’d been firecrackers exploding and bombs bursting in air.

That’s when we learned how delicately calibrated are the emotional states of some of our esteemed neighbors.

(Note: At least the team called the Patriots won’t be on the Super Bowl field this year.)

COLUMBUS DAY — Currently the third rail of American holidays.

Cities have busied themselves in recent years removing old monuments built to honor Christopher Columbus back when cities did such things. Cities that did not remove statues had the work done for them by roving mobs of Antifa lefties.

Señor Columbus is now lumped in with Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Typhoid Mary by social critics with better educations than you, and by modern historians who don’t read history books. The assumption is that if Columbus hadn’t set sail in 1492 and ruined everything that no Europeans would have ever come to America.

It’s frequently pointed out that Columbus was A) a lousy navigator because he got lost, and when he finally got to at the Bahamas he didn’t know where he was. And B) Columbus was stupid because he landed on the wrong continent after he’d forgotten to bring along the global maps that didn’t yet exist.

(Note: Don’t expect an NFL team to relocate to Columbus, Ohio any time soon. Or Columbus, South Dakota (pop. 78).)

So Happy Holiday to you. In the near future it will be decided that the best way to measure the popularity of national holidays is via per capita consumption of Bud Lite beer. This will finalize the Super Bowl as Numbah One! in the hearts of fellow citizens all across the land.

(Tom Hine has never much cared for football but he does watch the Super Bowl between bags of chips, buckets of guacamole and trips to the bathroom to recycle his Coors beer. TWK prefers watching a nice cozy mystery on PBS. Courtesy Ukiah Daily Journal)

One Comment

  1. izzy March 17, 2021

    …what’s in a name?
    “The Great Redwood Travail”

    When you’re walkin’ in the Garden, better watch your back.
    – Tom Waits

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